Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Loyalty or Death (Joshua 1:16-18)

Joshua 1
King James Version (KJV)

16 And they answered Joshua, saying, All that thou commandest us we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go.
17 According as we hearkened unto Moses in all things, so will we hearken unto thee: only the Lord thy God be with thee, as he was with Moses.
18 Whosoever he be that doth rebel against thy commandment, and will not hearken unto thy words in all that thou commandest him, he shall be put to death: only be strong and of a good courage.

The people express their loyalty to Joshua and advocate the death penalty for disloyalty. This at least concerns military matters. John Gill writes:
[T]his part of military discipline they agree to, and hereby declare their entire submission to him as their general; some understand this as spoken by all Israel, and of their promise of obedience to Joshua, as their governor, in all things:
And Matthew Henry writes:
But they were so far from having any suspicion of Joshua’s deviating from the divine rule that there needed not such a proviso.III. They pass an act to make it death for any Israelite to disobey Joshua’s orders, or rebel against his commandment, v. 18. Perhaps if such a law had been made in Moses’s time it might have prevented many of the rebellions that were formed against him; for most men fear the sword of the magistrate more than the justice of God. Yet there was a special reason for the making of this law now that they were entering upon the wars of Canaan; for in times of war the severity of military discipline is more necessary than at other times. Some think that in this statute they had an eye to that law concerning the prophet God would raise up like unto Moses, which they think, though it refer chiefly to Christ, yet takes in Joshua by the way as a type of him, that whosoever would not hearken to him should be cut off from his people. Deu. 18:19I will require it of him. IV. They animate him to go on with cheerfulness in the work to which God had called him; and, in desiring that he would be strong and of a good courage, they did in effect promise him that they would do all they could, by an exact, bold, and cheerful observance of all his orders, to encourage him. It very much heartens those that lead in a good work to see those that follow follow with a good will. Joshua, though of approved valour, did not take it as an affront, but as a great kindness, for the people to bid him be strong and of a good courage.